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Mens Basketball Review

From EphBlog favorite David Fehr:

So what happened…

…to our 30-win, NESCAC champion, NCAA Final Four team this year? Some people think that Bobby Casey, good as he is, is a shooting guard playing out of position at point. Ephs were a finesse team depending on shooting which, unfortunately, wasn’t always there. I keep remembering Dave Wilson’s decade-old observation “We’re too nice.” The pre-season hype was easy to understand. In 2017-18 we won the NESCAC championship without Kyle Scadlock who was our best all-around player when he went down for the season with a torn ACL. With Kyle back this year, joining a talented group of offensive players, add Feinberg, who I thought would bring needed grit to the starting lineup (which I think he did) and the sky seemed to be the limit. We opened 15-0 and were ranked second in the nation, fans were euphoric (though there were warning signs even then) but from that point through our loss in the NESCAC SF, Williams was just not all that good. Something was missing.

Amherst vs. Williams

The last 21 times these teams have met Williams has won 4. The last 38 times Williams has won 10. Complete embarrassing domination. I think the reasons include a different philosophy between the two schools regarding athletic admissions (different philosophy between Williams and the rest of NESCAC, in fact) but there are other factors here that are unlikely to change. In Amherst I, over there, we played magnificent interior defense, blocked what for Ephs was an unprecedented 10 shots, but Amherst went 11-23 from deep (many uncontested) and we missed a buzzer-beater which would have won it. We led by 11 with 11 to play. Amherst II, in Chandler during the “lost weekend” that ended the regular season, we were outrebounded by 11 and missed a ton of layups and other short “paint” shots (points in the paint: Amherst 42, Williams 32). We lost by 5. Amherst III, played at Hamilton in the NESCAC SF, Amherst again won by 5 “The three games could’ve gone either way!” Yeah, but they didn’t. Here Amherst won it at the foul line, going 22-23 (96%) to our 16-24 (67%). Mammoths won this with no contribution from their best big, Sellew, who played only 6 minutes and was scoreless. As a Williams fan with no official connection to the College, this one-sidedness upsets me; were I an alum (especially an alum who liked sports and was also a big donor) I’d probably try to do something about it.

Depth

The mantra this year was that Williams was a deep team. We weren’t. In fact, when Marc Taylor, our best bench player, went down for the season with a torn ACL, we became downright shallow. A team isn’t “deep” by playing 8 or 10 guys; it’s deep only if the guys off the bench contribute with points, rebounds, defense. That happened on occasion (it really happened against Whitman where our bench played 66 minutes and scored 26 with 17 rebounds but that was the exception) but more typical was Trinity II (52 minutes, 1 point, 6 rebounds); Amherst II (43 minutes, 2 points, 6 rebounds) while Mammoths bench scored 30; and the stinker with Middlebury (bench 58 minutes, 3 points). “But the subs play great defense.” No they don’t; watch them next time. Depth may be overrated; the games are short with many stoppages and these are 19 to 22 year olds. Two years ago Babson won a national championship with a six-man rotation, three of whom never came out of the game. Two of Christopher Newport’s best players went 36 and 39 minutes against Hamilton and 24 hours later played 38 and 37 against us.

Wrap-up

I’d like to keep going but this is too long already. Strength of schedule interests me – Williams had just one signature win this year, vs. Whitman in the Sweet 16. Of our other opponents, only Amherst, Middlebury and Hamilton were ranked in the d3hoops.com Top 25 (really the top 44 when you include “other teams receiving votes”) and we couldn’t beat any of them. I’d love to talk about how screwed up the NESCAC has both basketball programs, and how they could be fixed. I’d like to explore our great success in individual sports and lesser success in team sports (Jim Worrall can’t understand the difference between team and individual sports, but the rest of you can). Ditto women’s sports compared to men’s.

Looks like a total rebuild next year. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

A total rebuild is what EphBlog is heading for as well . . .

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